Rethinking the War on Terror
People always take things too far. It's why empires fall: they grow until they topple. Our worst ideas are preserved because great thinkers and poor clutch their own opinions like clubs and turn our human race into a race to be God. But the race is long and littered with the fallen, and just beyond the finish line is the stairwell, ever writhing, alive with undead ideas spawning more.
Flying jets into skyscrapers is a bad idea, rotten, and the same goes for wearing a bomb under your clothes and blowing yourself up in a crowded restaurant. These are terrible ideas from which no good can come, yet they're popular ideas, in practice by a growing number of people around the world who have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Nothing. Ideology isn't necessary for suicide. It's the most personal decision one can make, and the consequences, for the perpetrator, are nil--heaven aside, legacy and fame aside--the only bad that comes of a suicide bombing is all the rest of it: the pain that's indelibly smeared on love ones and hated ones equally, and the undeniable uselessness of suicidal activity that becomes clear the moment the smoke clears.
Waging war on terrorism is a bad idea because terrorists don't fight "fair." The larger the army, the greater their disadvantage. Terrorists don't wear uniforms, they don't show up on time on the battlefield, and they certainly don't travel together in well-marked vehicles: they see that as suicide. If an army wanted to "win" a war on terror, it would make sense for them to at least grant themselves equal powers: the power to be invisible, the power to surprise, the power to disappear, deny, cackle, gloat. Armies can't do this because they're led by students of proper warfare, whereas terrorists can deploy themselves without invitation or even much training. Anger's enough. They're implacable: they want only their enemies out, out, out--or so they chant.
After 9/11 it wasn't uncommon to hear Americans wonder out loud: Why do they hate us so much? What did we ever do to them? How come some people are cheering in the streets? How could this happen? Will it happen again? Where? When? How?
The answers were all there for us to learn correctly, and we might have, if, if, if. But we didn't. We didn't hear them say "get out." Get out? Who would say that? We're not getting out, we said: We're going in! And in we went, and in we stayed, and still they chant: GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! What do they want?
Even if the entire U.S.-led occupation forces were to leave Iraq tomorrow, the chant to get out wouldn't change. Because what the Middle East is really saying to the West is: Get Out, All of You. Out of our oil fields, out of our politics, our business, our affairs; get your asses out of our countries you greedy sons and daughters of dollars and take your camera phones and beer swilling orgies and bad music with you.
Why do they hate us? Because we own them.
Imagine for a moment how it would feel to be owned. If you have a job, or if you are married or divorced, living with your parents or your children, if you have a credit card or a mortgage, you might think you know how it feels to be owned, but, slap yourself, you're way off the mark.
To be owned by a largely unseen foreign interest that operates covertly and often against the interests of the people indiginous to the region it owns is to be lied to and robbed, ignored or destroyed as called. Foreign, used here, refers to ideals, not countries. Corporations by nature are foreign insomuchas they are creatures of the state, inhuman by law, made of boards and shareholders, but exactly what the creature does is often a secret even from itself.
Now foreign ownership is finding hostile hosts all over the world. Poor Exxon is getting its ass kicked out of Venezuela. That's not how it's supposed to work.
And poor Halliburton. This American corporation formerly under the command of current U.S. vice president Dick Cheney was officially charged with the duty to plunder Iraq, restore basic services destroyed by the U.S. where prudent, and rebuild the country with American know-how and aesthetics. Against great hazards, Halliburton continues to do its job, sending in the bravest and brokest independent contractors they can send in as sacrifice, while their few actual employees are spared for the hard part: divvying up Iraq's vast oil wealth among a complicated network of carefully selected buyers. As to the restoring and rebuilding part, that remains on hold. The trouble in Fallujah, you may recall, began when the men who were burned alive in their car by a mob mentioned to a curious passerby that they were surveying this lot for a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Foreign ownership is borderless, ubiquitous and more stealthy than any terrorist organization, and richer, and more powerful. This is what people want out. Even many Americans are beginning to wake up to the fact that its government is owned and operated by the very companies they work for. Governments, their leaders and armies, have become like actors and extras battling across the world stage to distract populations from the more certain truth: they're being robbed.
There's only one way to kill terror, and that's to be not afraid. Take courage, it's free. Drop fear; it's a bad chemist. Courage is smarter and wiser than fear, but slower and harder to catch. Fear leaps like fire, courage faces the fire and puts the damn thing out. Cool, clear courage is our most magnificent weapon.
The sooner we accept the terrible truth that terrorist attacks will continue until they don't anymore pretty much regardless of what we do or don't do, the sooner we can pay attention to the very thing we're trying our hardest to ignore: the coming revenge of Mother Earth, her accelerated timetable for our exit, and what we plan to do about food and water.
And that's all I'm going to say about it, until 2006.